Produced by Gail Abbott Zimmerman and Sarah Prior
[CBS NEWS] KATY, Texas -- "48 Hours" has been covering the case of David Temple since 2007. He has maintained his innocence. Now, dramatic new developments may give him a shot at freedom.
David Temple is serving life for the 1999 murder of his wife, Belinda. She was eight months pregnant at the time.
"I'm innocent ... my family knows that I'm innocent. My close friends know that I'm innocent," Temple told "48 Hours" correspondent Richard Schlesinger.
Temple has always denied having anything to do with it.
"Two angels left to -- left to go to heaven a long time ago," he said in tears from jail. "And justice hasn't been served one day for them yet. And I pray every day that that will happen. And that my name will for once and all be cleared."
This was one tough case. It took more than eight years to bring Temple to trial.
"Harris County did an excellent job of collecting evidence and processing the scene," said Steve Clappart.
Back then, Clappart was an investigator with the District Attorney's Office. He says Belinda Temple's murder unnerved the Houston suburb of Katy. Temple grew up there and was a high school football star. After college, he brought Belinda back to his hometown.
"We were married in January of '92, college sweethearts. She was an incredible woman, incredible wife, an incredible mother," said Temple.
Belinda taught special education at Katy High. David coached football in a nearby town. Their son, Evan, was 3-and-a-half when David told him he lost his mother.
"It's the saddest thing that -- you're seein' it's a boy that's -" Temple said in tears, taking a long pause --"Just bein' broken," Just immediately the tears coming out of his eyes."
When "48 Hours" spoke with Temple just after his 2007 trial, he told us his version of what happened on the day Belinda died.
He said Belinda stayed home that afternoon while he took Evan out to run some errands. They can be seen on surveillance tape at a local grocery store.
"We stopped got two drinks and I picked up a bag of cat food," Temple said in 2007.
He said when they got home, it was clear something was wrong.
"The back door's open and it's cracked ... with glass. And, took my son across the street and banged on my friend's house and handed them Evan and asked if they would call 911," said Temple.
Neighbor to 911: Somebody has broken into my neighbor's house.
Temple ran back to his house, and, he says, discovered Belinda's body slumped on the floor of their bedroom closet. A cordless phone was by her side:
David Temple to 911: I just walked in. My wife--I believe she's been shot. It's got blood everywhere...
Belinda was killed by a shotgun blast to the head. Neither she nor her unborn baby ever had a chance:
911 operator: Have you felt for her to have a pulse?
David Temple: Yes. She doesn't have one. She's gone. ...She's gone.
Temple told police he had no idea what had happened, but, as is routine, the police were sizing him up.
"...usually you go to the closest people. And David, of course, was her husband, so he was immediately of interest," said Clappart.
And, from the beginning, they found reasons to doubt David Temple's story. For one thing, they wondered how a burglar got past the Temples's dog, Shaka.
"They were saying if this was a burglar," Clappart explained, "then the dog certainly would have bothered them."
Dean Holtke, then a crime scene tech, told "48 Hours" in 2007, that he thought the break-in looked staged.
"If the door is sitting in this position - closed -- an intruder is going to make entry and break it out here," Holtke explained of the broken window pane. "You would expect to see glass straight out this way," said Holtke gesturing to the area directly in front of the door.
"The broken glass would go straight out?" Schlesinger asked.
"Exactly," Holtke replied.
"But you find it off to the left," Schlesinger noted.
"Yeah," said Holtke.
"What did the placement of that glass tell you?"
"That the door would have had to have been open when the glass was broken," said Holtke.
Holtke added, "The TV was down on the floor, but it's not unplugged. If you're there to steal a TV, first you'd unplug it, right?"
But here's what really caught the detectives' attention: it turned out David Temple was cheating on his pregnant wife. He'd been seeing a teacher he worked with named Heather Scott.
"Do you think the affair with Heather was one reason that the jury might have turned against you?" Schlesinger asked Temple.
"Oh, absolutely. There's not a doubt in my mind. But bein' unfaithful doesn't make me a murderer," he replied.
To this day, Temple insists it was nothing more than a brief fling and that he never stopped loving Belinda.
"Would you have stayed married, do you believe, given your involvement with Heather?" Schlesinger asked.
"Absolutely," said Temple.
Police believed they had their man, but couldn't arrest Temple because there was no hard evidence connecting him to the crime: no forensics, no fingerprints, no DNA. There were no signs that Temple had cleaned up: no glass or blood found in his truck. And despite an exhaustive search, police never found a shotgun that connected to David Temple.
"There is no evidence that points towards me, because it's impossible for there to be any," said Temple.
"Because?" Schlesinger asked.
"Because I did not kill my wife, plain and simple," said Temple.
But there was nothing plain and simple about this case -- especially because one of Temple's neighbors had had run-ins with Belinda before ... and he had lied about his whereabouts on the day she was shot to death.
TEMPLE ON TRIAL
"I think the thing that makes this case so well known here in Harris County is because of the way Belinda was killed," said Kelly Siegler, who was a prosecutor there for 21 years.
It was 2004, when Siegler got her first look at the case against David Temple in his wife's murder. It was more than five years after the crime, and nobody had been arrested.
"I thought this is a really good case," said Siegler.
"But this was not an easy case," Schlesinger noted.
"No cold case that's a circumstantial evidence case is ever gonna be easy, Richard," Siegler said. "They're all gonna be hard."
Siegler had a well-earned reputation for high energy, high profile and highly dramatic prosecutions.
And she believed she could make a case against David Temple with the evidence she had.
"What did you have?" Schlesinger asked.
"So many little pieces," Siegler replied. "You have the dog ... the staged burglary ... and the timeline that he tried to put together so perfectly but he didn't quite pull off."
So, David Temple was arrested. It took three years to bring him to trial, and into Kelly Siegler's crosshairs.
"So who is David Temple? You're going to hear a lot about him in this trial," Siegler told jurors (xthe courtx)in 2007. He's a man who nobody ever said 'no' to."
Siegler is Texas tough, but so is Temple's lawyer. Dick DeGuerin is famous for helping billionaire Robert Durst get acquitted of murder.
"When I heard David Temple hired Dick DeGuerin, I'm going, 'Jeez!' " Siegler told "48 Hours" in 2008.
The two lawyers have clashed many times before. They do not like each other.
"How do you describe her? Schlesinger asked DeGuerin, who chuckled.
"I can't trust her word," he said.
"David Temple did not kill his wife Belinda Temple and the evidence will show you that he did not," DeGuerin told jurors in his opening statement.
But Siegler was confident and says the motive in this case was one of the oldest in the book, another woman.
"It's true that David had an affair," DeGuerin said in court. "That doesn't make him a murderer."
Not only did Temple cheat on his wife, but a year-and-a-half after Belinda was killed, he married Heather Scott, his one-time girlfriend.
"She was the reason why David Temple finally made up his mind to end his marriage with Belinda by executing her," Siegler told Schlesinger.
"It doesn't look good. And that's what the prosecutor harped on all during the trial," said DeGuerin.
Siegler actually called Heather to the stand. "48 Hours" wasn't allowed to record the witnesses' audio, but the former mistress downplayed the affair in her testimony.
"That was just so -- come on, so contrived. Nobody in the courtroom bought that," Siegler said in 2008.
DeGuerin's key witnesses were brothers who lived directly behind Temple's house.
"I heard a loud boom," said one of the brothers. "Boom," said the other.
The Roberts brothers were young boys when they told the police they heard what sounded like a gunshot.
They had started watching the movie "Dr. Doolittle" a little after 4 p.m., and nine years later, they remembered the exact point in the film when they heard that sound.
Using that point as a time reference, the defense figured they heard the boom around 4:30 p.m. And that is a critical time because David and his son, Evan, were seen on that store security video at 4:32 p.m.
"When they heard the gunshot, David Temple was six miles away," DeGuerin told Schlesinger in 2008.
"They were little kids and probably pretty impressionable and who knows what they heard, when they heard or why they heard it," said Siegler.
Siegler says it's hard to remember specific times now, but when "48 Hours" spoke to her in 2008, she spelled out her theory of what happened, saying that Temple murdered Belinda around 4 p.m., and then covered his tracks.
"David Temple made a sweep through the house and made an attempt to make the house look like it had been burglarized," Siegler said. "He broke the glass in the back door ... And then he took Evan and went to some places there in Katy to try and get himself on videotape to alibi himself as quickly as he could."
That plan failed, she said, when a witness who went to the same high school as Temple said he saw him driving about a mile off the route Temple said he drove that day, but close to the rice fields of Katy, Texas.
"Well, what do you think he was doing out there?" Schlesinger asked Siegler in 2008.
"I think that's where he went to get rid ... of the shotgun," she replied.
"But you never found the shotgun."
"Do you know how many rice fields there are in Katy, Texas? ...and creeks? And ponds?" Siegler responded.
"The evidence will show David never had a 12-gauge shotgun," DeGuerin said in court.
DeGuerin says the weapon wasn't found because Temple never had it. Police zeroed in on Temple, he says, ignoring other potential suspects.
"The family had long suspected this thug that lived next door. And we just didn't have any proof of it," said DeGuerin.
Riley Joe Sanders was a troubled 16-year-old who first claimed he'd been in school all day, when, in fact, he was not. Belinda had told his parents he was perpetually truant and she had tangled with him and his friends for leaving broken beer bottles in her yard.
"I learned that he failed a series of polygraph tests on his knowledge of the murder. I learned that during the trial, for the first time," DeGuerin continued.
It also turned out that Sanders had borrowed his father's shotgun without permission.
"He had access to the kinda shotgun used in the murder and he was in the area when the murder took place, and he had a history with ... Belinda Temple," said Schlesinger.
"OK," Siegler said. "He was a 16-year-old kid ... Do you really think a 16-year-old kid is gonna walk into his neighbor lady's house, a teacher that he respected and did like, and blow her brains out when she's carrying her nine-month old daughter inside her body? ...Why in the world would he do that?"
At trial, Siegler called Sanders as her last witness. He denied having anything to do with the murder -- but admitted skipping out of school that day and driving around the neighborhood with friends, smoking pot. He said he got home around 4:30 p.m. and took a nap.
"He ... came down here voluntarily to walk into a courtroom to face Dick DeGuerin, at that time, the meanest, baddest defense lawyer in the United States of America," said Siegler.
"We're not required to prove who it was. We don't know who it was," DeGuerin told the jury.
But in closing arguments, DeGuerin asserted that the boy next door was a better suspect than David Temple.
"There is more evidence that it's Joe Sanders and his buddies than it was David," he told the jurors.
But Siegler said David Temple was the one with the motive.
"You better believe he was serious about Heather.And you'd better believe he was done with Belinda in his mind," Siegler told the court in her closing argument."You know with all your heart David Temple is guilty of murder."
David Temple was convicted and sentenced to life.
"Every ounce of air you had in your body was just taken from you at one time," he said.
Today, eight years after the trial, DeGuerin says he knows a lot more than he did back then about Riley Joe Sanders and about Kelly Siegler.
"How would you characterize Kelly Siegler's behavior in this trial?" Schlesinger asked DeGuerin.
"Outrageous," he replied. "I hate to admit that I was snookered, but I was."
A NEW LOOK AT THE CASE
When David Temple stood trial, Steve Clappart, the longtime investigator for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, did not know the case very well. His only role in it was to drive Temple's neighbor, Riley Joe Sanders, to the airport and return some property to him.
"Kelly asked me to ship a shotgun back to him. He was living in Arkansas at the time," Clappart said of Siegler's request.
But then, five years after David was convicted, a new witness got in contact with attorney Dick DeGuerin.
Daniel Glasscock, who knew Riley Joe Sanders in high school, said he wanted to clear his conscience. He said back in 1999, he overheard Sanders talk about a burglary that escalated.
"I remember him saying nobody was supposed to be there, when he went into the house," Glasscock said in a videotaped deposition. "As he went upstairs, the dog attacked him, he shot the dog, heard Belinda, put the dog in the closet and they panicked and ran."
It was confusing. The Temple's dog was not shot, but Glasscock seemed to believe that "dog" was code for "Belinda," and that Sanders could be involved in her murder.
"I really believe that an innocent man is sitting in prison for something he didn't do," Glasscock continued, becoming emotional in that deposition.
DeGuerin gave Glasscock's videotaped statement to the District Attorney's Office, and investigator Steve Clappart was told to check it out.
"Was it awkward to be investigating a case that your office had successfully prosecuted?" Schlesinger asked Clappart.
"Yes," he replied.
Clappart needed to know more about the case. So he read the old police reports -- all 1,319 pages -- and he quickly became concerned.
"What did you think ... when you read that?" Schlesinger asked.
"I thought, 'Wow,'" said Clappart.
The name Riley Joe Sanders was all over the reports.
Sanders and his friends gave varying accounts about where they were and what they were doing on the day Belinda died.
"There it is again. And again," Schlesinger pointed out of seeing Sanders' name mentioned. "Does that indicate to you that he might have been a suspect?"
"There was an extreme amount of interest in him," said Clappart.
Clappart was obligated to give the reports to Temple's new lawyers, Stanley Schneider and Casie Gotro. And they say a lot of what was in there was never seen before by the defense.
"Stuff was hidden," said Schneider.
Asked who hid it, Gotro told Schlesinger, "Siegler hid it. Siegler hid it. And she hid it well."
For example, Dick DeGuerin says prosecutors hid information about a shotgun that belonged to Riley Joe Sanders' father. Sanders admitted in court that, before the murder, he took that gun without permission.
Jurors did not hear that police were told one of Sanders' friends, Cody Ellis, had hidden the gun under his bed.
"And the fact that it's hidden -- that's evidence of guilt that you're hiding something," said Schneider.
How a sheriff's deputy got a hold of that gun is a mystery.
"The details of exactly how that deputy got the shotgun were unclear all the way up until the trial," said Siegler.
"How can that be?" Schlesinger asked.
"Because the deputy didn't write a supplement," said Siegler.
"Why not?" Schlesinger pressed.
"I don't know," Siegler said. "There was nothing sinister about it, nobody was trying to hide anything."
"It doesn't seem odd to you?"
"It doesn't to me, no."
Shotguns can't be individually identified with ballistics. Siegler claims the murder weapon was never found, but that shotgun had a lot of the same characteristics as the one that killed Belinda.
"It was a 12-gauge ... it had a spent, reloaded double-ought buckshot shell in it," said Schneider.
"It's the closest thing to a murder weapon ... law enforcement was ever able to find," Gotro said. "And reloaded double-ought buckshot shell is pretty specific, it's pretty unique."
It's the same gun that Clappart ended up returning to Sanders after Temple's trial.
"Did you wonder about that weapon that you sent back to Riley Joe Sanders?" Schlesinger asked Clappart.
"Yes sir," he replied. "It was a very sinking feeling ... it still bothers me and it's something that you can't undo."
As Clappart scrutinized the reports, he became interested in another break-in that happened just nine days before Belinda's murder. Some of Sanders' friends had got into a home by smashing through glass, like the Temple home.
"They'd gone in and rifled through some stuff," Clappart explained. "...and so somebody had taken a CD player, turned it on its side and left it sitting on the floor."
"Oh, like the TV in the Temple case," Schlesinger noted.
"The TV in the Temple case was the same kinda way," said Clappart.
One of the boys had a beef with the man who lived there, and Clappart wondered if Riley Joe Sanders had a beef with Belinda. And whether that could that be a motive for him and his friends to break-in to her home when they believed she wasn't there.
"They wanna go mess things up. They want to go steal a few things. They want to hurt rather than kill,"said Clappart.
"Riley Joe Sanders had no involvement in what happened to Belinda Temple," Siegler said. "He was focused on. ...And he was cleared. Let me say that again. He was cleared."
"And what cleared him?" Schlesinger asked Siegler.
"His own cooperation and truthfulness cleared him," she replied.
"That's all though, right?"
To this day, Clappart sees nothing in those reports to definitively clear Sanders or his friends. Sanders failed three polygraphs; some of his friends failed, too. But the investigation, Clappart says, just seemed to stall.
"Looked like they ran into a dead end. And then all of a sudden it picked up and it seemed like the entire focus was on David Temple," said Clappart.
Clappart says he wanted to pick up where investigators left off. He wanted to talk to Cody Ellis.
"I wanted to ask him about the shotgun that he'd ... hidden for several days from Riley Joe Sanders, Clappart explained. "We know they were together the day of the murder."
"Did you ever get to ask him anything?" Schlesinger asked.
"No sir," said Clappart.
"Not one question?"
Clappart says his plans were derailed by other detectives, including Dean Holtke, one of the first on the scene. Clappart says they got to Ellis first and tipped him off about the new investigation. What's more, Cody Ellis and Riley Joe Sanders both got lawyers who did not want them talking to Clappart. Who found the lawyers? Kelly Siegler, who was no longer with the D.A.'s office.
"Have you ever done that before?" Schlesinger asked.
"Made sure someone had a lawyer? Yeah. It's a prosecutor's job to make sure someone has a lawyer when you think they need a lawyer," said Siegler.
Detectives also talked to Daniel Glasscock, the man who gave DeGuerin that videotaped statement. They made an audio tape of this interview:
Detective Eric Clegg: A jury heard this thing, OK? ... All 12 of them convicted him.
"What do you believe their goal was in talking to Mr. Glasscock?" Schlesinger asked Clappart.
"To break Mr. Glasscock down," he replied.
After five hours of talking, Glasscock wavered on a lot of the details:
Daniel Glasscock: DeGuerin did not tell me "do not say this, do not say that" ...but I just feel like words were being put in my mouth...
"When I heard that that witness had not only recanted, but that witness ... admitted that Dick DeGuerin was the person who fed him the details of the murder case ... I was pretty disgusted," said Siegler.
Clappart's new look at this old case was not winning him friends in the office.
"People that I had known for many, many years would no longer talk to me," he said.
"What, they would shun you -- like school kids?" Schlesinger asked.
"Yes," Clappart replied.
He called Kelly Siegler to explain what was happening.
"He was cryin' on the phone. And ... apologizin' for what it was he was doin' to a righteous conviction and investigation," Siegler said.
"Wasn't in tears. I was upset. My voice cracks," said Clappart.
"What were you upset about?" Schlesinger asked.
"Well... have you ever had the rug pulled out from under you?" Clappart asked. "I believed in that office."
After his long career in law enforcement, Clappart was now a key player in getting a convicted killer a new day in court.
WAS EVIDENCE WITHHELD?
In December 2014, after eight years in prison and after losing two appeals, David Temple's luck changed.
"I've known it from day one that this day would come," he told Richard Schlesinger. "The process is in the right direction now.
Temple was granted a new hearing to see if he got a fair trial or if he deserves a new one.
Attorneys Stanley Schneider and Casie Gotro hope to prove that prosecutors hid evidence from the defense -- including police reports that focused on Riley Joe Sanders and his friends.
"You have a young man who's interviewed on six different days, gives ... seven ... oral statements, two written statements, and flunks three polygraph tests," said Schneider.
Former prosecutor Kelly Siegler says Temple's trial attorney, Dick DeGuerin, got everything he was entitled to, when he was entitled to get it.
"Dick DeGuerin might not have eyeballed with his own eyes the exact statement typed up in an offense report," Siegler explained, "but what Riley Joe Sanders had to say in all of those statements, the meat of it, was known to Dick DeGuerin."
And she says DeGuerin got police reports exactly when D.A. office policy dictated he should. That policy, at the time was, after a police officer testified, just before DeGuerin began his cross-examination, he got a chance to look at -- but not copy -- that officer's reports.
"It was designed to keep Dick DeGuerin with his hands tied behind his back," Gotro said. "I don't know how the hell you're supposed to do your job as a defense lawyer when you're given that volume of information in the middle of trial."
Some reports were 100 pages or longer. And the defense never got to see reports written by officers who did not take the stand. At Temple's new hearing, Siegler was called to testify and she described how information was doled out to the defense.
"You said, 'I would give them all the discovery they were entitled to, piece by piece, very slowly and very miserably, they got what they were entitled to have... They got snippets, bits and pieces.... They never saw ... the whole police report,'" Schlesinger told Siegler.
"Even doing it the slow way, every single thing under the law, Mr. DeGuerin was entitled to ... was turned over to him," she said.
"And who decided what was exculpatory?"
"The same as in any other case, the prosecutor does," said Siegler.
"You did?" said Schlesinger.
"Sure. That's the way it works," she replied.
Gotro disputes that Siegler handed over everything favorable to the defense, and which she says should have been disclosed before the trial. For example, all those reports about Sanders that could be used to argue he made inconsistent statements.
"He was investigated," Siegler said. He was consistent, he was cooperative. And I believe he was always very truthful."
"Well, he said that he went different places in different statements," Schlesinger said. "At one point he says that he saw David Temple's truck leaving the neighborhood, another time he says he didn't see David Temple's truck leaving the neighborhood. How's that consistent?"
"His story was pretty much consistent," said Siegler.
"This is not a minor point. You know this," Schlesinger noted.
"He said, 'On second thought, it wasn't David Temple's truck," she replied.
"Ms. Siegler, you know that the devil's in the details in these cases. And you know in this case, he was pretty definitive the first time around," Schlesinger pressed.
"Not really," said Siegler.
"Yes, he was, he d -"
"No, he wasn't."
"-- he described that truck with tinted windows and those special wheels -"
"That is not true."
" -- and the -"
"It wasn't that definitive," said Siegler.
"It was pretty definitive," Schlesinger countered.
"That's not the way I read it," the former prosecutor said.
Defense attorneys say if jurors knew everything about Riley Joe Sanders, they might have been more open to Temple's explanation of evidence, like those shards of glass that police found so incriminating. Attorney Stanley Schneider says they could have scattered when Temple came charging through the door.
"If that door's flung open and hits the hutch, it's going to fly off into the living room," said Schneider.
The defense says the man who testified he saw Temple on the road could have been mistaken about the time and day. And they say Temple's dog, Shaka, might not have been as ferocious as police say.
"I'd direct your attention to the grand jury testimony of Mr. Riley Joe Sanders," said Gotro.
"And what does he say?" Schlesinger asked.
"Shaka will bark at him when he's cutting the grass. But what about if you're not cutting the grass? No. She'll just come over and sniff," said Gotro .
At the new hearing, Kelly Siegler spent four days on the stand. The former prosecutor aggressively defended herself.
"It was very, very repetitious. And it seemed like-- it could have been a whole lot more efficient," she said.
"She was so just blasé about what she had hidden and why she had hidden it," Gotro said. "And I have my client, David, sitting next to me who hasn't -- who lost his wife and his baby and hasn't watched his son grow up. And his family has gone bankrupt trying to get him out of prison ... it broke my heart a little bit and I didn't see that coming, that's for damn sure."
"It breaks your heart a little bit now, I think," Schlesinger commented.
"Yeah, it does," said Gotro.
In the middle of this new hearing, defense attorneys discovered some evidence that never made it to court before: audio-taped interviews conducted at Belinda's school just two days after she died.
"A group of teachers were interviewed one day in the gym and they were taped and there was nothing of substance on any of those tapes in those interviews," said Siegler.
But Casie Gotro says those tapes change everything.
"They would have decimated the state's case," she said.
Siegler says Belinda was killed around 4 p.m. Cell phone records show she made a call to David at 3:32 p.m., but they don't show where she was. A teacher who had been at a meeting with Belinda gave police a clue:
Teacher: She left my office between 20 after 3:00 and 3:30...
Cop: Uh-huh. So...
Teacher: ...And, you know, from what other people have said, she made a phone call to David.
Defense attorneys say if Belinda made that call from school at 3:32 p.m., it would be all but impossible for her to have been home at 4 p.m., the time Siegler says she was killed. But Siegler says the teacher was actually talking about a different phone call.
"She says, 'She left my office between 3:20 and 3:30 and, you know, from what other people have said, she made a phone call to David,'" Schlesinger noted to Siegler.
"Which happened earlier that day," she said.
"There's no indication that she's talking about this any earlier," said Schlesinger.
"That's how I read it, because they did have phone calls earlier that day," said Siegler.
"She makes no reference of that."
"She doesn't say that it's happening later either. Ya'll are reading into that what you wanna read into it," said Siegler.
Temple's lawyers say if Belinda arrived home after four, Temple would have had just minutes to murder her, clean up, stage the scene and get his young son to that store where they were seen on surveillance footage.
"Kelly's timeline can't be," Gotro said. "David can't be the killer."
Twenty-three witnesses testified at the hearing, including Daniel Glasscock -- the man who contacted DeGuerin in 2012 and spurred the reopening of this case. He was called by the State. He continued to contradict himself and wound up in tears.
"His eggs were scrambled so badly by all of those interviews. I mean, he's virtually useless as a witness anymore," said Gotro.
It was a lot for the judge to take in. And this judge is tough -- tough on defendants and very tough to read.
"He didn't smile. He didn't frown. He didn't scowl," Gotro said. "Nothing. Nothing."
THE JUDGE'S OPINION
"There is an innocent man sitting in prison and he's been there for a long time," said Casie Gotro.
David Temple's attorneys weren't sure they had any chance at all with Judge Larry Gist as they waited for his opinion.
"What I knew about Judge Gist was that he had a prison unit named after him," Gotro said.
That could be bad. "You don't get a prison named after you by being pro defense," she added.
In July 2015, Judge Gist issued his opinion.
"Stanley is standing there with this opinion rolled up in his hand and a tear in his eye, 'You're not gonna believe it, you're not gonna believe it," Gotro told Schlesinger.
Judge Gist found that David Temple should get a new trial. He listed facts - 36 facts - favorable to the defense that he said the state should have disclosed, but didn't or disclosed too late to be of any use.
"...seeing a judge that got to see all of this evidence say, 'This man deserves a fair trial, he wasn't given one.' That mattered in ways that I still feel," said Gotro.
"It was your first victory in this case," Schlesinger noted.
"Richard, This is not a victory. This is just the first step," said Stanley Schneider.
It's the first step, because, strong as it is, the judge's decision is a recommendation to a higher court -- the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. That's where David Temple's fate will be decided.
"How confident are you that the Court of Criminal Appeals will order a new trial?" Schlesinger asked Gotro.
"I'm afraid to jinx it. I'm afraid to -- to hope too loudly," she replied.
"Here you are again waiting for another decision. Is this any harder ... than waiting for the other ones?" Schlesinger asked David Temple.
"No. It wouldn't be harder, because this time we're in the right direction," he replied.
"You think you will walk out of here?"
"I know I will walk out," said Temple.
"You know you will walk out?"
"I know I will walk out."
That won't happen without a fight. The Harris County D.A. has filed an 80-page objection to Gist's findings, aggressively defending Temple's conviction and Kelly Siegler's conduct at his trial.
"Judge Gist's findings compared to what actually happened at trial, with what the witnesses testified to, his findings are incorrect," said Siegler.
"Judge Gist is just wrong?" Schlesinger asked.
"Yes sir, he is," said Siegler.
"On 36 points?"
"Yes sir, he is."
"Not one thing he enumerated is true?" Schlesinger asked.
"Not even one," said Siegler.
Siegler once famously dismissed charges and freed Anthony Graves, an inmate on death row. Reviewing the case, she determined prosecutors withheld favorable evidence. But in the Temple case, she insists that defense lawyers got all the evidence they were entitled to.
"Just because one judge made these ridiculous findings that none of us can understand," Siegler said. "He's not the final say. The court of criminal appeals is, thank God."
At a press conference after Judge Gist's opinion was released, attorneys Schneider and Gotro graphically demonstrated how much information they say was withheld from the defense.
"What this case is all about is this right here," Schneider told reporters, tapping a stack of documents. "This was never seen ... This is what was suppressed."
This is the first good news David Temple's family has heard in years.
"My brother has spent eight long years in a Texas state prison. He is failed by a legal system that failed him, failed their child, failed our family, but most importantly failed Belinda," Darrin Temple addressed reporters.
Evan Temple, who was 12 when his father went to prison, was raised by Temple's second wife, Heather.
"I may be biased, but he's the finest young man that walks this planet. I'm tellin' you," Temple said. "He's got so much of his mother in him that -- it's every time you look at him."
But Kelly Siegler says others in Belinda's family are still struggling to cope.
"I wish that people could understand what it feels like to -- to be Belinda's family when they're in the middle of this never ending appellate process that makes no sense," she said. "They don't understand it and frankly neither do I."
"As we sit here today, have you heard anything over the last several years, as they waited for his opinion since this trial, that has shaken your belief that David Temple murdered his wife?" Schlesinger asked.
Siegler emphatically replied, "No."
She says she hasn't spoken to her former colleague, Steve Clappart, for more than three years.
"Do you believe David Temple is an innocent man?" Schlesinger asked Clappart.
"I believe that he did not kill his wife," he replied.
Clappart says he came to this opinion after doing what he always does -- he followed the evidence.
"You had to go against all your friends or most of your friends to do it?" Schlesinger asked.
"That's correct," said Clappart.
After a lifetime in law enforcement, he left the District Attorney's Office and now works with defense lawyers he had battled in court for years.
"My dad taught me that doin' the right thing isn't always the easiest thing," Clappart said, becoming emotional. "And I think I've done the right thing."
It was an awful crime, he says, with no hard evidence -- the kind of crime that can haunt an investigator.
"I guess the real question is, do you think whoever killed Belinda Temple is ever gonna pay for it?" Schlesinger asked Clappart.
"Do I think they're gonna pay for it? No," he replied.
"And where does that leave you?"
"Empty," Clappart said. "And so how do you get justice for a woman who was killed?"
The decision is in the hands of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The court may rule at any time.